Human Rights Watch accused Colombia’s President Ivan Duque of promoting nine alleged war criminals who are “credibly implicated in extrajudicial executions and other abuses.”
Among the suspected war criminals, the human rights organization said, are National Army commander General Nicasio de Jesus Martinez.
The current army chief was second in command of the 10th brigade that is being investigated by prosecutors for allegedly executing 23 civilians and presenting them as civilians killed in combat in 2005.
According to HRW, the human rights group has evidence that Colombia’s current army commander paid $400 (COP1 million) to information leading to the “excellent results” in two military operations.
In one of these operation, a 13-year-old child and an adult was murdered. Neither of the victims were guerrillas as claimed by Martinez’ unit, according to the court.
In 2011, a court convicted two soldiers and a former paramilitary member for murdering the pair. It found that troops abducted the victims from their home at dawn, murdered them, placed weapons on their bodies, and reported them as FARC guerrillas killed in combat. In 2013, an appeals court asked the Attorney General’s Office to investigate “possible [criminal] conduct due to [possible] lack of control by the superiors.”
Human Rights Watch
“The Colombian government should be investigating officers credibly linked to extrajudicial executions, not appointing them to the army’s top command positions,” said HRW’s Americas director Jose Miguel Vivanco in the press release.
By appointing these officers, the government conveys the troubling message to the troops that engaging in abuses may not be an obstacle for career success.
HRW director Jose Miguel Vivanco
Colombia’s war crimes tribunal is currently investigating the mass killing of civilians that skyrocketed after 2002 when Duque’s political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, became president and Vice-President Marta Lucia Ramirez was appointed defense minister.
Duque’s dodgy promotions
- General Nicacio de Jesus Martinez (head of the army)
- General Jorge Enrique Navarrete (head of General Staff for Human Resources and Logistics)
- General Raul Antonio Rodriguez (head of General Staff for Planning and Policies)
- General Adolfo Leon Hernandez (head of the Army Transformation Command)
- General Diego Luis Villegas (head of the Vulcano Task Force)
- General Edgar Alberto Rodriguez (commander of the Aquiles Task Force)
- General Raul Hernando Florez (commander of the National Training Center)
- General Miguel Eduardo David (commander of the 10th brigade)
- General Marcos Evangelista Pinto (commander of the 13th brigade)
According to prosecution documents, Colombia’s military executed more than 4,500 civilians to present them as guerrillas killed in combat. According to one study, more than half of the combat kills presented while Uribe was in office were in fact innocent civilians.
The International Criminal Court has demanded criminal investigations into 29 generals and colonels and has warned Duque that it will proceed to prosecute them if the country’s war crimes tribunal fails to do so.